Tim Hardaway was part of one of the original Big Threes, and the other two are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He thinks he knows why he hasn’t joined them: his well-publicized rant from over a decade ago, in which he said he hated gay people.
Hardaway, 52, was a five-time All-Star in his 13 seasons in the league. He had career averages of 17.7 points and 8.2 assists per game. His crossover move was legendary.
He teamed with Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin to form “Run TMC” in Golden State and lead the Warriors back to relevance with an exciting form of basketball. Mullin and Richmond are both in the Hall.
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) March 27, 2019
Hardaway went on to put up big numbers for coach Pat Riley in Miami. His career numbers certainly deserve Hall of Fame consideration, but he says they are overshadowed by the comments he made four years after he retired.
“You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known,” Hardaway told Dan Le Batard on Miami radio in 2007. “I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.”
Asked about potentially having a gay teammate — such as John Amaechi, who had recently come out — Hardaway responded: “First of all, I wouldn’t want him on my team. And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don’t think that’s right. And you know I don’t think he should be in the locker room while we’re in the locker room. I wouldn’t even be a part of that.”
After the comments, Hardaway was banned from the league’s All-Star festivities. He apologized, but it has been a long road to recovery for his reputation. He has worked with LGBTQ groups to raise awareness and secure rights and petitioned Florida to legalize same-sex marriage.
Every year his name resurfaces when Hall of Fame finalists are named, and every year he is passed by.
“Well, you know, the reason I’m not in is because of what I said in 2007 about gay people,” he told Hoops Hype recently. “That’s why I’m not in right now, and I understand it. I hurt a lot of people’s feelings and it came off the wrong way and it was really bad of me to say that. Since then, I’ve turned a wrong into a right. My parents used to always tell me, ‘If you do something wrong, look it in the eye. Don’t back down from it and be scared of it. Go make it right and make people understand that you made a mistake.’
“And that’s what I did. I’m trying to do what’s right, supporting gay people and transgender people. I want people to understand [what they go through] and understand them as people. They shouldn’t be seen as ‘other’ people. You shouldn’t call them [derogatory names] or look at them all ugly. Those are people too. They should get to live their lives just like we live our lives and that means having freedom and having fun. They should get to enjoy their life the way they’re supposed to enjoy life. … I’ve talked to people from the LGBTQ community [and I tell them], ‘You’re supposed to have the same rights that we have and supposed to be able to do everything that we do. You shouldn’t be outcast.'”
Hardaway, who was a Detroit Pistons assistant from 2014 to 2018, said making the Hall “would mean a lot,” but “there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“But, hey, I understand the ramifications of [what I said],” he told the publication. “I understand why I’m not in. All I can do is keep living. My parents also always told me, ‘You can’t control what you can’t control.'”